THE 2014 PARADE WENT OFF ON TIME IN A LIGHT RAIN, BUT MANY PEOPLE STILL TURNED OUT AND THE PARADE LASTED 62 MINUTES.  CLICK HERE FOR A PARADE SUMMARY AND PICTURES.  CLICK HERE TO SEE FOX 61's VIDEO REPORT. CLICK HERE TO SEE CHANNEL 30'S VIDEO REPORT.  CLICK HERE TO SEE THE COURANT'S SLIDE SHOW OF PARADE PICTURES.

WILI's WAYNE NORMAN PREVIEWED THE 2014 JULY 4th BOOM BOX PARADE ON WFSB-TV, CHANNEL 3 ON JUNE 28.  TO WATCH THE INTERVIEW, CLICK HERE.

FOR A SUMMARY AND PHOTOS OF THE 2013 WILI BOOM BOX PARADE, CLICK HERE.

Charter cable CTV-14 in Northeastern Connecticut shows the full 2013 WILI July 4th Boom Box Parade on its website -- click here .

THE 30th ANNUAL W.I.L.I. "BOOM BOPARADE" STARTS ON JULY 4th, 2015 AT 11:00 a.m -- AT JILLSON SQUARE (corner of Main and Jackson Streets).  NEW SAFETY GUIDELINES ARE IN EFFECT.  FOR DETAILS, CLICK HERE.


 
For directions to the formation area, click here.
 
See a video of Wayne Norman previewing the 2013 parade--click here and move the bar to 13:35 minutes in.   See Wayne's preview of the 2011 parade--click hereSee a video of the 2010 parade (with commentary)--click here.
 
Hear two songs written about the Boom Box Parade--click here and scroll to July 4, 2014.

The WILI July 4th "BOOM BOX PARADE”  IS THE LARGEST PARADE OF ITS KIND IN THE WORLD!!

In 1986, no marching band could be found for Windham's Memorial Day Parade. Five weeks later, the "Boom Box Parade" concept was born, as WILI plays the marching band music on the air, while thousands march and watch, loudly playing their radios (boom boxes).
 
The 2010 WILI "Boom Box Parade" was the longest ever (117 minutes).
 
Anyone can march or enter a float in "Connecticut's Unique People's Parade." The only requirement is to wear some red, white, and blue, and bring a radio tuned to WILI (1400-AM). American flags are optional, but encouraged. There is no "official" theme for the parade.
 
Formation for the Boom Box Parade starts at Jillson Square on Main Street around 9:00 on July 4th. No pre-registration is necessary. The parade runs seven tenths of a mile west on Main Street to Memorial Park. There are new safety guidelines, including no water spraying, no throwing candy, and no reckless operator behavior.

The parades are always led by Grand Marshal Wayne Norman--WILI's morning man since 1970--who always starts the parade in unusual outfits and themes.  He was a patriotic butterfly in 2013.  In 2012 he cloned a "frog of Windham." He led the 2011 parade wearing the uniform of the 2011 NCAA champion UConn men's basketball team, and walked with the state champion Windham High School girls basketball team.  In 2010, he was in cap and gown, campaigning (unsuccessfully) to be the next UConn president. He was joined in 2009 by his California niece and nephew with a surfer theme. In 2008 he rode in an electric wheelchair. In 2007 he celebrated WILI’s 50th anniversary with a 1950’s look. In 2006 he was dressed as the "King of Willimantic,” sitting atop a huge Boom Box. In 2005 he paddled a kayak with red hair, wearing the uniform of the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox. In prior years he has ridden an adult tricycle, a go-cart, a motorcycle, worn a UConn Husky basketball uniform, and in 1998 pulled the world’s largest boom box while rollerblading. Norman stresses that everyone bring a Boom Box. "The parade doesn’t work if you don’t bring a radio,” he says. To see some of Wayne's prior outfits, click here.

Past parade marchers have included a "baby boomers unit" (parents pushing children in strollers); a "precision drill team" (marchers holding power drills); skateboard units, along with various decorated floats and marching youth and civic groups. Among the most popular annual entries are the "Traveling Fish Head Club of Northeast Connecticut", "Haggerosa,”--nearly 100 members of Willimantic’s Haggerty family, whose entries have spanned three blocks, and creative floats from the Willimantic Brewing Company/Main Street Cafe.

FOR A SUMMARY AND PICTURES OF THE 2012 WILI BOOM BOX PARADE, CLICK HERE.  SEE MORE PARADE PICTURES HEREAND HERE.  SEE A MUSIC VIDEO OF THE PARADE, CLICK HERE.  SEE FOX 61's REPORT ON THE 2012 PARADE--CLICK HERE.

Read the Willimantic Chronicle's 2012 parade preview here

FOR A SUMMARY AND PICTURES OF THE 2011 PARADE, CLICK HERE.

 
 THE 2010 WILI "BOOM BOX PARADE" WAS THE LONGEST EVER--AN HOUR AND 57 MINUTES. READ GRAND MARSHAL WAYNE NORMAN'S PARADE SUMMARY HERE AND SEE HIS PHOTOS HERE. SEE MORE PARADE PHOTOS HERE, HERE AND HERE. READ THE CHRONICLE'S PARADE SUMMARY HERE.  READ THE NORWICH BULLETIN'S PARADE SUMMARY HERE. SEE PARADE PHOTOS FROM THE NORWICH BULLETIN AND HARTFORD COURANT. CLICK HERE TO READ PREVIEWS OF THE 2010 PARADE IN THE WILLIMANTIC CHRONICLE, NORWICH BULLETIN, AND NEW LONDON DAY.

  
FOR PHOTOS AND INFORMATION FROM THE 2009 PARADE, CLICK HERE
 
 Grand Marshal Wayne Norman with Governor Jodi Rell led the 2007 parade
 
FOR A SUMMARY AND PHOTOS OF THE 2008 PARADE, CLICK HERE.
 
  TO READ THE WILLIMANTIC CHRONICLE'S ACCOUNT OF THE 2008 WILI BOOM BOX PARADE, CLICK HERE.
 
TO READ THE NORWICH BULLETIN'S ACCOUNT OF THE 2008 WILI BOOM BOX PARADE, AND SEE THEIR PHOTO ALBUMCLICK HERE.
 
SEE A SUMMARY OF THE 2007 PARADE AND PHOTOS BY CLICKING HERE . 

To view photos from prior parades, click here

To view photos of Grand Marshal Wayne Norman's unusual parade outfits, click here

For a listing of the music and artists used for the soundtrack of the WILI Boom Box Parade, click here 

 Decked out in red, white, and blue, WILI's Wayne Norman leads off the 2003 WILI "Boom Box Parade" asking a question that was on many peoples' minds.
 
 
The 2007 WILI "Boom Box Parade" was one of the best attended parades yet. It lasted 91 minutes, and as usual, featured marchers and spectators from around Connecticut, the USA, and the world.   Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell marched at the front of the parade.


Once a year WILI Sales Manager Donna Evan is a clown

As with the inaugural parade in 1986, the 2000 parade also attracted nationwide attention. The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times ran major features on the parade, with color photos. The Willimantic Chronicle, Hartford Courant and Norwich Bulletin ran major features on the parade, complete with color photos. In addition, Connecticut TV stations WFSB and WVIT covered the Boom Box Parade and had features on the 5pm and 11pm news.

Members of the Traveling Fish Head Club of Northeast Connecticut give Willimantic a new name.
 
Anyone can march in "Connecticut's Unique People's Parade." The only requirement is to wear some red, white, and blue, and bring a radio tuned to WILI (1400-AM). American flags are optional, but encouraged. There is no "official" theme for the parade.
 
An ex-Governor came to the 2004 WILI Boom Box Parade, complete with hot tub and suitcase for his trip to Pennsylvania.

The WILI "Boom Box Parade" begins at 11 AM sharp.  Formation for the Boom Box Parade starts at Jillson Square on Main Street between 9 and 10:30am on July 4th. No pre-registration is necessary.  A one-mile road race -- The Boom Box Mile -- preceeds the parade.  For more information, click here.

UConn English Professor and Hartford Courant columnist Gina Barreca calls the WILI Boom Box Parade "unquestionably the event that makes the Fourth of July seem as important as it should be."  Connecticut U. S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is always at what he calls "the best parade in Connecticut."

People spilled off the sidewalks to watch the 1997 WILI Boom Box Parade

The Boom Box Parade originated when no band could be found for Windham's Memorial Day Parade.  Two days before the holiday, parade lover Kathy Clark approached WILI with the novel concept of the radio station playing marching band tunes while people blasted the music on radios ("boom boxes").   Figuring the lead time for promotion was too short, WILI vetoed the Memorial Day parade idea.  Not to be denied, Kathy came back two weeks later, suggesting the concept for July 4.  A tradition was born.  

"We had no idea what to expect," said parade Grand Marshal Wayne Norman.  "I went by the formation area 90 minutes before the parade, and no one was there.  I thought, 'Wasn't THIS a great idea!'"  But the first parade lasted 44 minutes and was hailed as a great success.  Recent parades have been more than twice as long.  For a story on Kathy Clark's legacy, click here.

Past parade marchers have included a "baby boomers unit"--parents pushing children in strollers; a "precision drill team"--marchers holding power drills; skateboard units, along with various decorated floats and marching youth and civic groups. One of the most popular annual entries is the "Traveling Fish Head Club of Northeast Connecticut", which in 2003 had a "herring town" entry and in 2001 had a tribute to Windham's frog bridge.  Recently, nearly 100 members of the Haggerty family have gone all out with their "Haggerosa" theme--a takeoff on Bonanza's "Ponderosa" in 1998 and multi-unit circus theme in 1999, and a "We are not alone" aliens theme in 2000. In 2001 their "Haggerosa Patrol" stretched over three blocks with its keystone cops routine.

 

In 2003 they had a cruisin' theme, called "Haggerosa Rock 'n Roll" The family's display included a Mel's Diner float complete with a jukebox as well as a golf car converted into a mini car.

 
The Haggerosa clan again had multiple entries which spanned over a block. The 2003 theme was 50's and 60's Rock and Roll.
 
The parades are always led by Grand Marshal Wayne Norman--WILI's morning man since 1970.  He has developed a tradition of wacky outfits. In 2013 he was a patriotic butterfly.  He cloned a "frog of Windham" in 2012.  He honored the 2011 NCAA champion UConn Men's Basketball team by wearing a UConn jersey and marched with the 2011 state champion Windham High girls basketball team.  He led the 2010 parade in cap and gown, campaigning (unsuccessfully) to be the next UConn president. He was joined in 2009 by his California niece and nephew with a surfer theme. He started the 2008 parade in an electric wheelchair.  He led the 2007 parade dressed like a 1950's greaser, as a tribute to WILI's 50th anniversary in 2007.  In 2006, he was dressed as "The King of Willimantic" while sitting atop a huge boom box.  In 2005 he kayaked down Main Street, while wearing a Red Sox jersey in honor of the 2004 World Series champs.  In 2004 he was wearing a white jump suit with a red, white, and blue sequined vest while riding an "adult tricycle" down Main Street.  He led the 2003 parade decked out in red, white, and blue, while driving a decorated go-cart, and had a two-sided red sign which asked "Where's The Courant today?" and "Where's Dan Rather today," in response to recent Courant and 60 Minutes II negative portrayals of Willimantic (see photo top of this page).

Two months after he backpacked the Grand Canyon, Wayne led the 2002 Boom Box Parade in his hiking gear-- complete with backpack. His Canyon Hiking pals followed him with a stretcher and a sign saying "Wayne's rescue crew"-- just in case! He carried cold water bottles in his pack and gave them to spectators on the 99 degree day.

He kicked off the 2001 parade as Uncle Sam riding a scooter. He wore a hard hat which played various sound effects and had two nylon propellers which lit up red and rotated. On his back was a drawing of Windham's new "Thread City Crossing" bridge, complete with actual photos of the bridge's frogs. And he carried a Sony Boom Box hanging from a strap around his neck.

 In 2000, he led the "Cupid Corps"-nine individuals who had been honored for community service by being named Romantic Willimantic's "Cupid." Wayne was the first recipient in 1982. He headed the 2000 parade wearing big, white, safety-pinned diapers, carried a bow and arrow, and had a red sash saying "Cupid 1982." He wore his traditional drum major hat from Windham High, a "Stars and Stripes" shirt, had boom boxes for shoes, and carried a Boom Box. In 1999 he honored the National Champion UConn Men's Basketball team by wearing an actual game jersey of UConn center Jake Voskuhl, had the colorful Boom Box shoes, the drum major hat, carried a boom box, threw candy to the spectators, shot baskets at a hoop carried on the back back of WILI's afternoon man Shawn Higgins--all while pulling a dogsled which carried the UConn Husky mascot.

In 1998, he towed a bus-sized boom box while on rollerblades. In 1997, he was joined upfront by WILI News Director Mike Morrissette on motorcycles. In 1996, he was dressed as a giant snowball, in tribute to the record-setting winter of '95/'96. In previous years he wore a white tuxedo (1994), and the Frog of Windham (1993). In 1992 he attempted to ride a horse, and in 1991 rode ten feet above Main Street in a cherry-picker supplied by the Willimantic Fire Department.

Former WILI Account Executive Gail Baker always brightened Boom Box Parades
 
 For more information, on the WILI "Boom Box Parade," contact Wayne Norman at 860  456  1111, or E-mail wayne @ wili.com
The Willimantic Brewing Company/Main Street Cafe Float was complete with a piano-playing frog. (Donna Andrychowski Photo)

FOR A LOOK AT THE PARADE AND ITS HISTORY FROM THE MAY 22, 2008 HARTFORD COURANT, CLICK HERE.
 
GET ANOTHER PARADE OVERVIEW FROM THE NOVEMBER 21, 2007 HARTFORD COURANT, CLICK HERE
 
READ SUSAN CAMPBELL'S HARTFORD COURANT PREVIEW OF THE 2007 PARADE, CLICK HERE.
 
READ DAVID HINCHEY'S 2007 PARADE PREVIEW IN THE CHRONICLE, CLICK HERE.
 
READ AMY LAWSON'S NORWICH BULLETIN 2007 PARADE PREVIEW, CLICK HERE.
 
A HARTFORD COURANT CRYPTOGRAM FEATURED THE BOOM BOX PARADE ON JULY 1, 2007.  CLICK HERE TO SEE IT.
 
 
FOR TIM PAGE'S FEATURE STORY IN THE WASHINGTON POST ON THE 2000 WILI BOOM BOX PARADE, WHICH ALSO RAN IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, CLICK HERE

FOR PHOTOS AND A SUMMARY OF THE 2006 PARADE,
CLICK HERE

FOR VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2006 PARADE,
CLICK HERE

The Forth Worth Star-Telegram featured the Boom Box Parade on June 19, 2005.  To read the story, click here.

To view photos of the 2006 WILI Boom Box Parade, click here

To view photos of the 2005 WILI Boom Box Parade, click here

To view photos of the 2004 WILI "Boom Box Parade" click here

To view photos from prior parades, click here

For photos of the 2001 WILI Boom Box Parade, click here and here.

The first WILI "Boom Box Parade" in 1986 got worldwide coverage.  To see a writeup from Guatemala, click here.  The New York Times ran a preview of the parade and a post-parade story.  To read the preview, click here
 
The Wall Street Journal had stories about the 1986 and 1987 Boom Box Parades.  To read the 1987 story, click here

For a New London Day op-ed page summary of the 2003 WILI Boom Box Parade, click here.

For a summary of the 2002 WILI "Boom Box Parade," written by Parade Grand Marshal Wayne Norman, click here.

Willimantic Chronicle Parade reports:  201020092008, 2007, 2006200520032002, 20012000, 1995, 1992

Norwich Bulletin Parade reports:  2010, 2009200820072006, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1995, 1993

Hartford Courant Parade reports:  20011997, 1994, 1993 

Kathy Clark created the Boom Box Parade concept.  To read about her legacy, click here.

To read an Associated Press story on the 2002 WILI "Boom Box Parade," click here.

"Roadside America" offered this summary of background of the WILI "Boom Box Parade."

Festivals.com listing for the WILI "Boom Box Parade"

A blogger from Europe was impressed with the WILI "Boom Box Parade."

The Traveling Fishhead Club of Northeast Connecticut emerged from the Willimantic River for the first time in 1987
 
The Windham Frogettes made an appearance
 
Boom Box Parade banners like this one and the one atop this page adorn Main Street before the parade


Copyright - 2014 - All rights Reserved
Constructed by - Quasars -